Proposed federal legislation to revamp the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) could pave the way for the United States to join three important international treaties, according to a new CIEL publication. “U.S. Law and the Stockholm POPs Convention: Analysis of treaty-implementing provisions in pending legislation,” reviews the Safe Chemicals Act (S. 847), a bill introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg in April of 2011 and its relation to international obligations under these international agreements.
If enacted, the Safe Chemicals Act would enable the United States to join the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), a global treaty that aims to eliminate a set of especially dangerous chemicals like dioxins, PCBs, and brominated flame retardants. To date, 174 nations have ratified the Stockholm POPs treaty, but the United States has not, pending necessary changes to TSCA and the federal pesticides law. Meanwhile the United States is a “nonparty” and an observer, while U.S. allies and trading partners make important decisions. The bill would also allow the U.S. implementation of two other international agreements.
In addition to facilitating United States ratification of these treaties, the Safe Chemicals Act provides an opening for the United States to reassert global leadership on POPs and other chemicals of international concern. The Lautenberg bill would also authorize U.S. EPA to identify and take action on other POPs-like chemicals, strengthening our hand in international negotiations to urge action by developed and developing countries alike.
According to Daryl Ditz, Director of CIEL’s Chemicals Program, “there is nothing partisan about protecting Americans from these dangerous global pollutants.” By joining these treaties, the United States can improve the pace of progress, and help to boost demand for safer alternatives around the world. The chemical industry is on record supporting U.S. ratification of the Stockholm Convention on POPs, yet they have yet to acknowledge this feature of the Senate proposal.